Carleton has a club water polo team, and righteous we roll. Named the Righteous Babes, our goal is to have some fun and play some water ball. We’re a fierce, ultra-loving group of water polo players with enough sparkles to make any opponent weep. We practice year-round as a co-ed team, but our women’s championship tournament marks the end of our official season.
We left campus at approximately 9 AM on Saturday morning. It was early, I was tired, so I didn’t manage to snap any pictures on the way to Grinnell College in Iowa. But, during the four-hour drive, Ruby Dirks ‘26 played soft, gentle music. She then progressed to loud, sing-alongs as we got closer to Grinnell. I managed to sneak in a short nap before we got to a gas station in Iowa for snacks and leg stretching.
As soon as we arrived on the Grinnell campus, we got pumped to play some polo. Because water polo is such a mental game, it’s important that you’re in the right mindset before you jump in. I try to say some comforting mantras to myself like: “You’re going to do great!” and “Channel your inner Maggie Steffens!”
Before every game, we have a ritual of putting on temporary tattoos. We always have a giggle at the random silliness we find in the endless bag of tattoos. I’ve put little sunshines on my face, unicorns on my biceps, and one time, a mermaid on my leg. I’ve seen eagles and cupcakes on other Babes, too.
After we’ve sufficiently decorated ourselves, we begin entering the water. There’s splashing, laughing, and a whole lot of mad dashes to the other side of the pool. Did you know that warmer outside air makes the pool feel colder? I recalled that fact this weekend when I jumped in and felt my heart skip a beat.
For warm-ups, we swam a few laps then passed the ball around. To warm up our goalies, Grace Malooly ‘25 and Ruby Dirks ‘26, we often shoot the ball at 80% speed in their halos. A halo is the circle your arms make when you extend them fully. Both of our goalies blocked some powerful shots this weekend. Then they came back into the field to make some powerful shots. What multi-talented Babes we’ve got!
We played two games against the St. Olaf Rogue Waves on Saturday. At one point in history, the Babes and the Waves played on the same club water polo team. Now we are (silly, playful, fun, loving!) rivals. We even have a cheer that encompasses both our team names. Northfield representation!
We narrowly lost our first game against the Rogue Waves, but not without putting up a fight. We swam our hearts out, pumped out some ferocious goals, and defended our goal with valor. We won our second game against the Rogue Waves on Saturday. This bumped us from a third-seed in the tournament to second place. Maya Jable ‘25 had some gorgeous one-on-nobodies that helped us secure our win. Alongside Sophie Baggett ‘23, who used her swim speed to her advantage, we won the game 11-9. That meant we got to play in the Championship game on Sunday morning.
Post-Game Wind Down
We were pretty hungry and tired at the end of the day. So we headed to a fan-favorite Frontier Cafe for some delightful food. We ate chili, chicken wraps, burgers, and oh, so much more deliciousness. It was really nice to unwind after a long day of driving and water ball.
Then, we headed to the hotel to finish some homework, watch some Ironman, and catch some Zs. Pro Tip: Finish as much of your homework as you can before you leave for an overnight trip. You will not want to work on an essay when you’ve got as good company as the Babes!
On Sunday morning, we snagged a hotel breakfast. We then made our way back to Grinnell for the Championship game. We were all pretty nervous and excited to play against the Grinnell Fireballs. Yet, we kept it relaxed and fun as we put on more temporary tattoos and warmed up. The Fireballs won, but the Babes made them work for it. Tori Winter ‘23 launched a shot from the center that made every jaw in the vicinity drop at how fast and powerful it was.
We placed 2nd overall in the tournament, and we got to take home a cool plaque! Our hard work and dedication this season paid off. We could see our improvement over the course of the year, and that’s better than any plaque.
Looking back on the fact that we only had 7 players (meaning that we had a full team and no substitutes), what we accomplished throughout the entire tournament is monumental. Under the comforting coaching of Chloe Truebenbach ‘25, we interrupted some very intricate plays, scored some fantastic shots, and gained a lot of confidence in our abilities.
The Babes are all shooters, and we have statistical data from the weekend to back that up! Mo Armstrong ‘23 is particularly proud of themselves for going out of their collegiate water polo career with plenty of goals to last until our next alumni tournament.
After every game, we have a tradition of doing a “Feelings Circle.” We list one shoutout for another player, one shoutout for ourselves, and one thing we’d like to improve upon. This self-reflection is an integral part of our team dynamics. The Babes love winning, but our ultimate goal is to enjoy the majestic sport that is water polo.
On the way back to Carleton on Sunday, we stopped at Dari Barn for some fries and ice cream. When I got tired during the Championship game, I thought about the ice cream I was going to get afterward. I’d follow the Righteous Babes to the end of the earth if they told me we were getting ice cream later.
We returned to Carleton in time for dinner and more homework on Sunday evening. Overall, it was a fun and fulfilling weekend. Not only are the Babes young and beautiful, but we are also awesome to hang out with. If you’re looking to play some water polo, no matter your experience level, you should come check us out in West Gym. We’ve got temporary tattoos for everyone!
Lexi (she/her) traded her flip-flops for snow boots when she moved from sunny Orange, California to Carleton College. She is a first-year student who is interested in majoring in Sociology and Anthropology and minoring in Russian. When she is not working in the Rec Center or color-coding her daily agenda, you can find her baking absurd amounts of banana bread with her friends.